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Bike Material of the Future: Wood

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Daniyal_Ali
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Platinum
Wood it work?
Daniyal_Ali   3/10/2014 11:08:52 AM
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Interesting idea Rob. These bikes would definitely dampen the road vibrations and look beautiful on the tracks, but what worries me is the deterioration of wood. We all know it is a hygroscopic material and it will be affected by vapors and other environmental factors. Will the design be able to cater these environmental influences? Because if not, these bicycle frames could be seriously damaged with absorption of moisture and deformation of wood.

NadineJ
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Platinum
Re: Wood it work?
NadineJ   3/10/2014 3:32:40 PM
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Wooden bike frames have been very popular for a while on the west coast of the U.S.  I haven't heard of any problems with weather or moisture.  An epoxy resin can be used, just as with boats.

I wish the article included some of the existing brands that are also using this vintage material for today's bikes.  The first bicycles were made of wood too.

Renovo in Portland, OR:

Renovo

 

Masterworks in California:

Masterworks

 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Wood it work?
tekochip   3/10/2014 3:37:48 PM
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Agreed, it's a beautiful material, but I worry about moisture and then the lack of it.  This Winter has been so awful that I have three guitars in the shop for cracks.  Two of them are over forty years old and have never had humidty problems before.

 

I bought a humidifier.

Crackle
User Rank
Silver
There's wood and there's wood
Crackle   3/11/2014 8:37:56 AM
Given the right wood, adhesives and coatings, there's no reason to be sceptical about wooden bike frames. We've been building wood-framed (and some plywood-skinned) aircraft for over a century now, with great success. A comparable engineering challenge, perhaps, with weight, strength and complexity well within our abilities. Wooden boats have perhaps more latitude with weight, but greater requirement for the right water-resistant coatings and adhesives.

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: There's wood and there's wood
tekochip   3/11/2014 9:33:11 AM
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Excellent point Crackle.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Too much time will always cost too much money
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   3/11/2014 9:50:30 AM
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Rob, while your title calls it a Material of the Future (I get it, spoken tongue in cheek) there was one line I specifically noted which guarantees this initiative will never launch as tomorrow's material of choice: "Each frame takes hundreds of hours to build". This is a beautiful hobbyist project, and they do look like a fun garage project; but I'm missing the point of why it's being developed at a University.

bob from maine
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Platinum
Re: There's wood and there's wood
bob from maine   3/11/2014 10:46:53 AM
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Using Epoxy resins to saturate wood and give it desired engineering characteristics has been done for decades. Before Epoxy, resorcinol glues were used to make airplane wings and propellors, and of-course boats. Some of the early wind power propellors were made of wood veneers as they were lighter and their performance could be very accurately predicted. Not sure flexibility is a desirable characteristic in a bicycle frame though. Wood saturated with epoxy is probably as dimensionally stable as any other material in regards to environmental changes. The difficulty is doing it the same every time.

J. Williams
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Platinum
Re: Wood it work?
J. Williams   3/11/2014 12:59:25 PM
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It is entirely appropriate that they are making wooden bike frames at Cedarville University.  I wood even be better if the frames were made from cedar.  (Not very strong though.  :-)

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Wood it work?
Rob Spiegel   3/11/2014 3:02:02 PM
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That's a great question, Daniyal_Ali. Unless it's cared for well, wood won't hold up like aluminum. I would be interesting to know how these cyclists care for the wood. I'll see if I can find out.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: There's wood and there's wood
Rob Spiegel   3/11/2014 3:08:05 PM
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Good points, Crackle. I sent a note to the wooden bike maker to find out how he cares for the wood. I'll post the answer when I get it.

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